Write like nobody’s reading

I recently put together a submission as a part of an application for a writing job. The process was a fairly straightforward one; write about something that inspires you and influences your practice. I opted to write about my current favourite magazine, Boat, as the theme and quality of writing always buoys me up 😉

However, a couple of weeks after I sent it off, I received a reply telling me it wasn’t quite what they were looking for.

Apart from the specifics of what was missing (insight and personal reflection should have been on the agenda) I realised I had once again fallen into a familiar mindset. It seems that lately, whenever I write, I become bent on just finishing the thing and getting it out there. I’m constantly rushing, whether it’s a short story or otherwise and find I often cut short the writing process just so I can say I’ve got something done.

Inevitably, the result is a finished piece, but hardly my best so it’s no surprise I’m not getting the answer I would like. In truth, I’m struggling a little with my identity as a writer. As time goes by, thoughts of ‘making it’ seem more fantastical than ever. Couple that with my mid-thirties fast approaching and the uncomfortable question keeps niggling away – is it make or break time? (Or just broke?) It seems as though the more I reach for it and the tighter my grasp, the further away a reality of accomplishment and satisfaction becomes.

So, for nobody but myself I rewrote the piece as if nobody is going to read it. Nothing to gain, just the truth according to myself. Hence, I’ve discovered a motto that I’m going to take forward this year and hopefully a different way of working; Write like nobody’s reading. Fitzgerald said something similar, but I can’t recall the quote. If anyone knows it, please tell me!

A word from the King

I’m currently reading Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’, a great book about the life of the writer and his thoughts on how to write a story. I came across a passage in it that I thought sums up the writing process well (or atleast, his process) and thought it was worth sharing.

“I want to put a group of characters in some sort of predicament and then watch them try and work themselves free. My job isn’t to help them work their way free, but to watch what happens and then write it down.”

“The situation comes first, The characters -always flat and unfeatured – come next. Once these things are fixed in my mind, I begin to narrate. I often have an idea of what the outcome may be, but I have never demanded of a set of characters that they do things my way. On the contrary, I want them to do things their way…if I’m not able to guess with any accuracy how the damned thing is going to turn out, even with my inside knowledge of coming events, I can be pretty sure of keeping the reader in a state of page-turning anxiety.”

And for those shortstoryers out there (me included), here are a few bits of advice I came across coupled with a list of publishers…

http://ideastap.com/ideasmag/the-knowledge/how-to-write-a-short-story-and-get-published

Hope some of this is helpful.